§ MR. W. H. SMITH
The Estimates which I have now the honour and the duty to submit to the attention of the Committee have been framed, as I daresay the Committee will see, with a very considerable regard, though I trust not an undue regard, to economy. We have been able to effect alterations which will make a considerable reduction on the charges proposed in the Committee of Supply in 1878. The first Estimate of that year was £11,053,901, and there were Supplementary Estimates occasioned by the circumstances of the year, but which I need not now go into. The sum we now ask for is £10,586,894, thus showing a decrease on the whole of £467,000. I must, however, say with reference to this Estimate, that it does not include any abnormal charge for transport, which may be occasioned by the Zulu War. The Estimates were framed before we had any reason to believe that it would be necessary to incur a large expenditure on that account, and the provision that has been made for the transport of troops to the Cape of Good Hope, and for bringing them back, as I hope before long, is not included in the Estimate, but will form the subject of a Supplementary charge. The charge, therefore, under this head is a normal charge. I need hardly say this—that the reductions have been effected without any sacrifice of efficiency; indeed, I should be inclined to contend that any real sacrifice of efficiency was not true economy in the conduct of the affairs of the Navy. It is of the highest importance that the Navy of this country, which has always been looked upon as the first line of defence, should be maintained in all respects in an efficient and serviceable condition. It is my object, as it has been that of my Predecessor, to maintain Her Majesty's ships in a serviceable state, fit for sea, and ready to do their work at any moment. It has also been my object to build such ships as experience and science has shown on the whole to be the most formidable, and the most suitable for the work which they have to do. Remarks have been 558 made, I may say not without apparent foundation, that a very large portion of our expenditure goes on in repairs. Well, Sir, it must be borne in mind, as has been forcibly described not many years ago by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen), that we have ships in all parts of the world discharging duties of every conceivable kind. On the 1st of January, 1879, there were no less than 164 effective ships and vessels armoured and unarmoured in commission. There were 125 fighting sea-going and non-sea-going ships, and 39 unarmoured non-fighting vessels, comprising troop-ships, store-ships, despatch vessels, and boats for special service. It is necessary to maintain, either in commission, or in a fit service for work, all these vessels, and that alone is a task which entails a large expenditure. I propose to take the Estimates, as I think it will be most convenient for the Committee that I should do, in the order in which they stand. In the first place, I will refer to Vote 1, for men. The Committee will see that there has been a reduction in the number of men as compared with previous years, while there is a small increase in the amount necessary to pay these men. The decrease on the whole is 1,200, the aggregate number voted last year being 60,000 men, while this year we only ask a Vote on Account of 58,800 men. But if hon. Members will refer to the Estimates, they will find that there is an increase in the continuous-service seamen class of 950; that is partly due to the fact that the waste of seamen is less than before, and partly to boys being rated as men, owing to the age at which they have arrived. More men, I am happy to say, have entered the continuous service, and there has been some slight increase owing to the employment of more engine-room artificers, stokers, and other continuous-service men. Engine-room artificers are a class which we have found to be exceedingly necessary in increased numbers, owing to the multiplication of torpedo boats and the lighter class of tenders to sea-going fighting ships, which materially increase the usefulness and power of such vessels. There is also a decrease, as hon. Members will perceive, in the number of boys. Last year the number of boys was 559 6,300; this year we only propose to take a Vote for 5,300. The decrease in the boys under instruction in the training ships is only 300, and the decrease in the number of boys in the service of the Fleet is due to the fact that the boys having become men have been taken as continuous-service seamen in increased numbers. The boys under training are 2,400 this year, instead of 2,700, at which number they stood last year. I had the calculations as to the waste of the Reserve carefully examined, and I am under the impression that it will be found that 2,400 boys will be amply sufficient to supply the full number of the seamen class which we require at the present time. We take 133 boys per annum, and we calculate that, allowing for 8 per cent waste, they will produce an annual increase to the permanent Force of 100 men, and thus we shall require annually to enter 2,394 boys, in order to keep up our permanent Force of 18,000 blue jackets. But whether these calculations are correct or not, the fact remains that at the present moment we have a larger number of disposable boys for ordinary seamen than we really require, and an interval of two months will not cause serious loss to the country even if we find it ultimately necessary to increase the number to 2,700; but, as I said before, I am under the impression that 2,400 will be found sufficient to keep up our Establishment of 18,000 seamen. I am speaking, of course, of the number of blue-jackets, irrespective of stokers and engine-room artificers. With respect to the Coastguard, it will be found that there is a reduction in the provision for it. The Coastguard has not been full for some time, and we have thought it best to reduce it to the numbers which we estimate will keep it under any excess of what will be required. There is also a reduction in the number of Marines. Last year there were 14,000 Marines voted, whereas this year we only ask for 13,000. Hon. Gentlemen are probably aware that it is not an uncommon circumstance for the Marines to be some 400 or 500 below their strength, and they are now some 650 below it. I may say, however, that there is no intention to reduce the number of officers or of noncommissioned officers; but simply to refrain from recruiting until we get down 560 to a Force of 13,000 men. If it should become necessary to increase the Marines, experience has shown that there will be no difficulty in obtaining recruits up to the full number required. There is at the present moment a considerable force of Marines on shore, well able to furnish a battalion for service abroad, if it should be desirable to send them out. Therefore, with the reduction I have proposed, I am fully justified in asking the Committee to accept the charges which are the result of that reduction. The Committee will perceive, and the country will be anxious to know, that we have a Reserve of seamen and gunners upon which to fall back in the event of any sudden emergency which might require the ships to be commissioned and filled with trained seamen and gunners. We have, first of all, a real Reserve of Marines of between 4,000 and 5,000 men on shore, who could be employed either on the land defences or with the Fleet. Undoubtedly, a considerable number would be required for reliefs. Men would be landed from the Fleet, and it would be necessary to provide about 1,000 men for the purpose of relieving them. It should be remembered, however, that we have a considerable force available. There is the Coastguard Force, which may be taken at about 4,150, and there are also 995 enrolled seamen pensioners available for service. In consequence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) having drawn my attention last year to the liability of seamen pensioners for service, I may state that I have satisfied myself that every seaman pensioner up to the age of 55 is liable to serve in time of emergency. Formerly, the limit of age was 50, but now it has been extended to the age of 55. Every seaman who accepts his pension is liable for duty when called upon up to that age; and not only does he forfeit his pension if he fails to serve, but he becomes a deserter, and can be charged as such. It is right that this should be understood, because although the Force may have become somewhat rusty, yet it is composed of trained men, and would be undoubtedly of very great value to the country in time of real emergency, if it unfortunately should arise. In addition to the 995 enrolled seamen pensioners, there are 9,000 men under the age of 561 55 years who are liable to serve. There is also the Royal Naval Reserve of 11,579 first-class, 5,331 second-class men, and 44 boys. Putting all these together, we have, therefore, a very large force upon which we could fall back in time of emergency; and I think that the provision that thus exists for manning the Fleet is in excess of any demand that is ever likely to be made. I have thought it right to state these figures to the Committee, in order that there may be no anxiety or concern at what might appear to be a retrograde policy in the reduction of the Effective Force of the Fleet at the present moment. It might be as well if I were to inform the House what the actual numbers of the several classes were on the 1st of February, 1879. They were—Seaman class, 20,054; artificers, 2,310; stokers, 4,985; servants or idlers, 4,038; and Kroomen, 409. The numbers voted in 1879–80 will be—Seamen class, 19,254; artificers, 2,260; stokers, 4,935; servants, 2,938; and Kroomen, 500. The totals show a reduction of 1,000 men. I now come to the question of expenditure on Vote 2, for victuals and clothing, on which there is a reduction of £142,817. Some portion of this is due to a reduction in prices; but part of the reduction is also due to the fact that we provide for 1,200 fewer men than we provided for last year. Generally, we have gone through the provisions that have been made for the different classes with as much care as possible, and I believe that we have provided for everything that will be really required, at the same time guarding ourselves from making provision for anything in excess of the real necessities of the case. I think the Committee will feel that it is our duty to estimate carefully, and not to estimate—as has been done in some cases—for the purpose of producing a surplus. The next Vote with which I have to deal is that for the Admiralty Office (Vote 3), and some explanation is required with regard to it. There has been a considerable reduction in the cost of the Accountant General's Department, and a saving in salaries has been made of £18,800. This has been accomplished by giving pensions and gratuities which will last for 10 years, and will amount to an annual charge of £16,000, so that there has not been any very great 562 saving in the actual cost of the Establishment. It would be wrong to suppose that economy is the only advantage which can be gained by arrangements of this kind. Hon. Gentlemen familiar with the Department will know that it is one which stood as much in need of re-organization as any in the Public Service. The work was not done so efficiently as it is now, and we shall go on with a contented, vigorous, and, I think, a very useful staff. Some changes of the same kind may be necessary in other Departments of the Admiralty; powers to effect them were obtained last year, and under these, steps will be taken which I have no doubt will much advantage the Public Service. On Vote 4, which is for the Coastguard and the Reserve, the reduction is due to the fact that the Estimate has been carefully made for the probable charge of the Service that will be required. There will be no reduction in the Royal Naval Reserve, and the Estimate is based upon the number of men whom we expect to obtain. No check has been put upon the number of men, although I may say that they have not come forward so freely as was expected. Therefore we have not thought it right to estimate for a number of men in excess of that which we shall probably get. With respect to Vote 5, I only wish to say one word. That Vote is in respect of the Scientific branch of the Service, with regard to which there is no change; but a considerable one has been made in the arrangements of the Naval College. We have thought it right to provide that the examinations shall be conducted by an independent Board of University Examiners, and not by the College authorities themselves. I think the Committee will agree with me that the Director of Studios, and the other officers, of whom I desire to speak in the highest terms, are not the proper persons to conduct examinations into the results of their own labour, and a system which depended upon the efficiency of such examinations must some time or other break down. Therefore, with the full concurrence of my Colleagues and the President of the College, I have thought it right to institute this independent examination. As I said in an earlier part of the evening, I hope we shall be able to make provision for the attendance of lieutenants at the College 563 during the time which they now usually occupy in their own purposes. It will, I think, be a desirable change for them to spend nine months at the College instead of wasting the time on shore. I am not in a position to tell the House the manner in which I propose to carry out that arrangement, but must defer giving particulars until I have more complete materials. I now come to Vote 6, one which is always a matter of interest to the Committee—that relating to Dockyards and Naval Yards at Home and Abroad. The Committee will see that there has been no reduction in the number of men to be employed in the Dockyards, nor has anything been done to affect the efficiency of the work performed there. The numbers and the Vote this year are substantially the same as last year. No doubt, there appears to be a decrease; but when the Supplementary Estimate of last year is taken into consideration, that will not be found to be so. The policy which I have kept in view with regard to the employment of men is that their employment shall be continuous and steady. I do not think that it is advisable suddenly, either largely to increase or to diminish the number of men employed. The experience gained by the men is found of very great value, for it takes some time to make good workmen. It has very often happened that a man who has served for five or six months has become most useful at the time that it is necessary to discharge him. The object which I wish to keep steadily in view is to make the greatest possible use of the men we have in hand, and to work them well. The only thing to which I will call attention is with regard to a slight increase in the staff at Malta Dockyard. The Committee will feel that it is a matter of the highest importance that our Dockyards abroad should be capable of doing the work likely to be assigned to them. Malta has proved to be a most useful Dockyard, and has rendered very good service. The work is not costly, and it is a great economy that many of our ships, not requiring repairs of an extensive character, should be repaired there rather than brought home. Hong-Kong is also a Yard in which there has been some slight increase, and there, again, we have very good results for our money. I know that there are great objections amongst officers against work 564 being done abroad; but I believe the work done at Hong-Kong has been exceedingly satisfactory, and the results are most economical and good in every respect. At Malta we expect to be in a position to repair the Thunderer, only sending out some fitters from England to assist in the work that is to be carried out. One permanent subordinate officer has been appointed to that Yard, and with their assistance the work there will be done. There is also a change, to which I will draw attention, in the position of Chief Constructor and Chief Engineer at Chatham. Considering the importance of that Yard, we think it right that it should be made a first-class Yard, and placed on the same footing, as regards the Chief Constructor and Chief Engineer, as Portsmouth and Devonport. Provision has also been made for a small advance in the wages and position of the leading men of shipwrights and caulkers in Dockyards. That will involve a present expenditure of £1,200 a-year, and will fairly recompense the good service rendered by those men. We fully recognize the value of the work done by those men, and are desirous that they should be encouraged. I may state that the present rate of pay of these men is 6s. 6d. a-day for the first seven years, and 7s. a-day afterwards. The new rates will be 6s. 6d. a-day for the first four years, 7s. for the next three years, and 7s. 6d. afterwards. I now come to the programme of the work done as compared with the programme proposed to be accomplished in the coming year. Taking the tonnage of last year, we had intended to build, under the formula laid down by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London, when at the Admiralty, 8,578 tons of iron-clads, and on the basis of previous Estimates we completed 7,533 tons of iron-clads, so that there is a nominal loss of 1,045 tons of iron-clads. We proposed to build of unarmoured ships 4,830 tons, and we have completed on the basis of the Estimate of the right hon. Gentleman 5,346, or a gain of 516 tons. The fact is, however, that the work which we are now carrying out in the Dockyards is more costly in labour than it has been before; it is more costly because the construction is more intricate; there are more cellular compartments, more fittings, and more mechanical complications of various kinds than were 565 originally estimated; and it is impossible fully and entirely to provide for them beforehand under the formula to which I have referred. Including the contract work, we intended to produce 13,408 tons in the Dockyards of armoured and unarmoured vessels, and 4,699 to be done by contract. We actually produced 11,968 tons in the Dockyards, 4,422 by contract, and 1,661 by purchase, making in all 18,051 tons. I explained partly how it was that this occurred when I took the Vote of Credit. There has been a delay in the construction of the large armoured ships, due to my own decision as to the Ajax and Agamemnon. In the course of last year representations were made to me that it was desirable that the question of larger and more powerful guns should be considered. The Ajax and the Agamemnon were far advanced, and other ships—the Majestic, the Colossus, and the Conqueror—were about to be commenced; and it appeared to me to be necessary to examine most carefully the conditions under which it might be possible to put larger and more powerful guns into these ships. The result was a delay in the progress of the Ajax and the Agamemnon, and a delay in the preparation of the designs for the Majestic, the Colossus, and the Conqueror, for which I am responsible, and in respect of which I consider I acted wisely in taking the responsibility, looking at the very great importance of the subject involved. We decided eventually upon proceeding with the Ajax and the Agamemnon, as originally intended, and we prepared the Colossus, the Majestic, and the Conqueror, so that they might receive either breech-loading or muzzle-loading guns; but, as I have said, such a decision is not now necessary, and will not be so until about a year from the present time. I may also mention another point—the experiments with compound steel-faced armour for the turrets of the Inflexible. A difference of opinion has existed as to whether compound steel-faced armour was not the best armour. Experiments were made, and I have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to clothe the turrets of the Inflexible with compound steel plates. A great many objections were made to this proposal; but the conclusion appears to me to be well established, that what would pass through the heaviest iron armour would 566 be resisted by compound steel-faced plates. Although compound steel-faced plates might be cracked by shot, yet they would still do their duty, and enable the vessel of which they were the armour to remain an efficient fighting ship during the remainder of the engagement; while iron plates might get perforated, and render the iron-clad useless. Great care has been taken to secure proper tests for these steel-faced plates, and every steel-faced plate will be tested, a piece being cut off from the finished plate, which will be fired at, so as to ascertain its power of resistance, and whether it will act in the way in which people say it will. It is not possible at present to give the relative resisting power. We must wait patiently the result of careful and more extended experiments. All we know at present is that compound plates of the same thickness are expected to resist where iron plates would be perforated. But, on a balance of the evidence presented to me, I am satisfied that it is my duty to adopt compound steel-faced plates as external armour for the turrets of the Inflexible; and. I think the result will show that a much greater amount of resistance has been given to those turrets. Still, as the Committee will understand, this decision was taken after very grave deliberation, and after much evidence had been investigated, and a very considerable time had been spent in making experiments. The delay in the Inflexible and other ships is thus accounted for. But if there has been delay, we have something to show for it; we have had something for the delay. The energy which would have been employed in advancing those ships has been directed to preparing others, some new, and some repaired for sea. Of iron-clad vessels we have now four ready for sea—the Dreadnought, the Northampton, the Nelson, and the Northumberland. In the course of the year nine others will be ready—the Devastation, for a three years' commission; the Neptune, the Sultan, the Repulse, the Superb, the Hotspur, the Wivern, the Orion, and the Swiftsure. Then, four large first-class unarmoured vessels are ready for sea, and other vessels have been ordered home to be put in a state of efficiency. In the course of the year the whole of the Comus class, six in number, will be ready for sea. I think, therefore, that if we have failed 567 to produce quite so large an amount of armoured tonnage in the course of the past year as previously, yet we can, at least, give a good account of the way in which the funds placed at the disposal of the Admiralty have been employed, the Meet being, at the present moment, certainly not inferior to any hitherto seen in English waters. There is another point to which I am anxious to direct the attention of the Committee—namely, the flotilla of torpedo boats. We have given great attention during the past year to that class of vessels; they constitute a most formidable and, I may say, a most dreadful mode of offence. We have thought it necessary to fit several of our first-class ships with torpedo boats, and with facilities for getting them in and out. And I do not much doubt that these boats will fully realize the expectations formed respecting them. The first-class torpedo boats have realized a speed of 18 knots per hour. The second-class boats have attained to a speed of 16 knots, although 14¾ knots was the contract figure. The performances of both classes of boats have been exceedingly satisfactory. We have thought it necessary not to confine ourselves to English manufacturers and builders in this matter. The other day I saw tried an American boat, which promised exceedingly well. Steam was got up in it within a period of six minutes, and the boat was actually moving under steam in that time. It takes a much longer time than that to get up speed in the old-fashioned boilers.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
We intend to build a considerable number of torpedo boats; but the exact number I do not think it desirable to mention, as the manufacture is in a very few hands. I now wish to refer to the work we contemplate doing in the course of this year. The boilers constructed in the Dockyards during the past year amounted to 30,948 indicated horse-power, and that was 507 indicated horse-power more than it was intended to construct. As regards shipbuilding work in the Dockyards during the year 1879-80, we contemplate advancing nine armour-plated ships by 7,493 tons, and eight steel and iron corvettes and other ships, amounting altogether to 4,658 tons, showing a total of 12,151 568 tons of work to be done in the Dockyards. Of shipbuilding work by contract, we propose to advance iron-clads by 239 tons, and unarmoured ships, gunboats, torpedo boats, &c, by 2,888 tons. The total number of vessels under contract is 35, independent of the increase to the torpedo flotilla. Altogether, we propose to build during the year 1879–80 a total weight of hull of 15,278 tons, with an indicated horse-power of 28,397. We expect to construct in the Dockyards this year about the same quantity of boilers as in the last year, when we produced about 30,000 indicated horse-power. I do not know, Sir, that I need occupy further time upon this question of shipbuilding; but will only say that I shall be prepared to answer any questions which hon. Gentlemen may put to me at a later period of the evening. I may, however, again state that it is most distinctly the policy of the present Board of Admiralty—a policy which I hope will never be departed from—to take every ship in hand for repair and put it in a fit condition for sea, if it be economical and desirable to repair that ship. In that way we are able to count upon having efficient ships, so far as repairs and seaworthiness are concerned. It is most desirable, no doubt, that new ships should be added to the Service, and that vessels of the most powerful type should be constructed; but it is wasteful in the last degree to allow really valuable ships, which it would be economical to repair—I lay great stress upon that point, for there are many ships which it would not be economical or right to repair—to deteriorate largely and become useless by remaining in the Reserve uncared for. I now come to Vote 7, the Vote for the Victualling Yards. Here, again, I am glad to be able to show a reduction of a not inconsiderable amount. Votes 8 and 9 (Medical Establishments and Marine Divisions) call for no remark. Vote 10 (Naval Stores and Machinery) is one which is always looked to with considerable interest, and the Committee will observe that it shows a somewhat large reduction. As we propose to build a smaller number of ships during the present year than the last year, a smaller provision for them is required. The Admiralty, moreover, have had the advantage of a slight fall in prices. The reduction in Section 1 (Naval Stores) is £169,051, and that notwithstanding 569 the fact that there has been a somewhat abnormal charge of £25,000 for new moorings for the Bermuda Dock. No reduction in real serviceable stores has been made; but all the stores have been maintained at the amount fixed and arrived at as the result of careful experiment and study, and I believe that it will be found that our stock of stores is amply sufficient for all the demands that may be made upon it. Section 2 of Vote 10 (Machinery and Ships built by Contract) shows a reduction of £200,000. With reference to this, the Committee will see that we are building less ships by contract, and therefore we require smaller provision to meet the charge. The amount of reduction is, no doubt, considerable, and the amount, it is true, might have been expended in adding considerably to the Fleet; but, looking to the expenditure last year on armoured, and also, to some extent, on unarmoured vessels, I do not think that I should be justified this year in asking for the full amount usually spent on shipbuilding by contract. I now come, Sir, to Vote 11, the Vote for Works and Buildings, and this will give me a fair opportunity of referring to some observations which fell from the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Goschen), and the noble Lord behind me (Lord Charles Beresford), with regard to seamen's barracks. A very small provision is made here for barracks both at Portsmouth and at Devonport. That provision has only been made in order to enable us to provide such accommodation for the men as was absolutely necessary; and had we not expended the money on the barracks it would have had to be expended in other ways. I agree with what has been said, that barrack accommodation would be greatly to the advantage of the men, and that it would increase their comfort and respectability, and, therefore, be a great benefit to the Service. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has expressed some doubt as to whether the barracks at Sheerness are altogether popular with seamen. I have the strongest reason for believing that these barracks are very popular, although it is only fair to state that the barracks at Sheerness are by no means a favourable specimen. They are simply an old store, in an inconvenient position, and without proper accommodation, converted into sailors' barracks; and, moreover, Sheerness is 570 not the most desirable part of the world to live in. Notwithstanding all these drawbacks, the barracks at Sheerness are always full, and the sailors, of their own accord, volunteer to go there. I cannot say that the desertions at Sheerness are not more numerous than at other places, although I do not think they are; but it should be remembered that the proximity of Sheerness to London affords facilities to those who are disposed to desert which does not exist in other places. I am satisfied that the barracks which we intend to build, both at Portsmouth and Devonport, are absolute necessities for the Service. The vessels used for receiving ships are rapidly wearing out, and the discomfort inflicted upon the men in having to go to and fro has not been at all exaggerated by the noble Lord behind me. Besides, the amount of labour which can be given by the men is very unsatisfactory; and, altogether, the practice of keeping them in receiving ships is about as inconvenient as and unpracticable and irrational an arrangement as it is possible to conceive. It only exists because it has been handed down to us, and because the idea of barracks for seamen was never thought of until recently. I have to say that the expenditure which will have to be incurred under this head will, on the whole, be a great saving. A ship will hold from 600 to 800 men, and the first cost of a ship is greater than that of a barracks for the same number of men. The cost also of maintaining the men there is greatly in excess of the cost of maintaining them in barracks. Before the end of the Session, I shall hope to lay on the Table of the House Estimates of the cost of building the first block of barracks at Portsmouth and Devonport. We contemplate lodging in those barracks not only the men now in the receiving ships, but also the gunnery men in the Cambridge, at Devonport, and the Excellent, at Portsmouth. The other day we had to make up our minds whether we should provide another gunnery ship in the place of the Excellent. It was intended to utilize the Lord Clyde; but it was found that it would cost a great deal more to fit up and repair that vessel than to erect an entirely new battery. I have no doubt that the battery which we propose to build on Whale Island will be a much more satisfactory means for training men for 571 gunnery than a very old ship, which can hardly bear the vibration of heavy guns. I trust the Committee will sanction the expenditure, for which we have made provision, and will approve the course intended to be pursued. The only other large increase is due to the Engineer Students' quarters at Keyham, which are rendered necessary by the new conditions under which engineer students are taken. There may be some slight charges in this Vote which may excite attention during the course of the evening. Schools have been provided for the Marines at Chatham; the necessity of building them arose from the fact that we had, at last, to put up a permanent building in place of a temporary wooden one, which was always causing expense. I am glad to say that the Extension Works, both at Chatham, and at Portsmouth, are very rapidly approaching completion. At Chatham great progress has been made, and I think the Committee will agree with me that it is undesirable to put a check upon the progress of ordinary work of this character, which ought to be carried out persistently and steadily according to the original plan. The work is larger than I myself should have proposed; but it will afford great facilities for the protection of the country, if necessity should arise. In the same way, progress has been made at Portsmouth; but here we do not intend to carry out all the work that was contemplated, and which would cost a sum of £215,000, to be provided for in future years. We do not intend to carry out those works, but only to complete those actually in hand. I hope, therefore, that before very long, probably at the end of three years, we shall see an end of these costly undertakings, which, however, will certainly add greatly to the strength of the country, and afford very great facilities for the transaction of the business of the Department. With respect to Votes 12, 13, 14, and 15, for Medicine, Medical Stores, Martial Law, and Miscellaneous Services, I have no special observation to make, but shall be glad to answer any questions that may occur to hon. Members with regard to them. Upon Vote 16 there is, as hon. Members will have seen, another considerable increase. This is the Vote for Military and Civil Pensions and Allowances. I have called attention to the fact that the increase 572 here is practically beyond the control of the Department. It is not in the power of any First Lord of the Admiralty to lessen these pensions or allowances to the widows of officers and men of the Seamen and Marines, because they are based upon contract engagements made with the men 20 years ago, and which must be carefully and religiously observed. No doubt the amount of these pensions is now very great. We have a Vote of £803,000 for Military pensions, and £300,000 for Naval. With regard to the Civil pensions, I may say that the increase is partly due to the arrangement, to which I have referred, in the Accountant General's Department of the Admiralty. We have got rid of a number of clerks, and our work is much better done; and, taking salaries and pensions together, we find that we are paying less than we paid before. The only other Vote which I have now to deal with is Vote 17—that for the Transport and Conveyance of Troops. Upon that I have no more to say than that the Estimate is framed upon information given to us by the War Department of their probable demands for the service of the year. It is based upon the presumption that the work to be done would be what has been performed in former years, and excludes altogether provision for the war in South Africa. Having now come to an end of the observations I have to make, I trust the Committee will forgive me for having made so very short, and, I am afraid, so uninteresting, a Statement; but I have thought it much better, since we have already had a naval discussion this evening, to make this Statement short and practical, rather than to enter into a number of extraneous details. I trust the provision asked for by the Government will be granted by the House; and I am sure that it will result in a sufficient, if not superfluous, acting Force for the service of the country. In conclusion, I beg to move the first Vote of £2,708,695, for Wages of Seamen and Marines.
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That 58,000 men and boys be employed for the Sea and Coast Guard Services for the year ending on the 31st day of March 1880, including 13,000 Royal Marines."—(Mr. W. S. Smith.)
§ MR. T. BRASSEY
said, he was gratified to be able, before entering into 573 other topics, to be able to pay a well-earned and cordial tribute of praise to the Royal Navy for the very valuable services rendered to the country during the past year. They had seen their admirable Coastguard Reserve tested with very satisfactory results in the Special Service Squadron assembled under Admiral Key; and the work undertaken by Lord John Hay's Squadron at Cyprus, which was of a most laborious character, had been most cheerfully performed. As to the efficiency of the Squadron under Admiral Hornby, that had been recognized, by every person competent to speak on the subject. During a recent cruise, he had had an opportunity of seeing the ships under Admiral Hornby's command; and, although a civilian, it was impossible for him not to be impressed with the conviction that every officer and man was determined to do all the country required of him. He did not know whether to admire most the fighting spirit which evidently existed in the Fleet, or the admirable discipline by which it was kept under control. He now asked leave to make a few remarks on the Vote for the pay of Seamen and Marines. He held, in common with the noble Lord (Lord Charles Beresford), the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), and others, who had from time to time addressed the House on the subject, that the pay of the seamen and marines of our Navy was insufficient as compared with that of the Merchant Service. The pay of an able seaman was 1s. 7d. per day, while all seamen sailing from the South American ports received from £5 to £6 per month; those from the Australian ports receiving higher rates still; and the pay of merchant seamen in the United Kingdom was but little inferior to that of the United States. No doubt, the Royal Navy offered many advantages, especially the advantage of a pension, which were not presented by the Merchant Service; but, on the other hand, young seamen set little value upon merely prospective advantages, and the consequence was that in certain parts, and on certain stations, they deserted in considerable numbers. He had noticed in the professional journals lately allusion made to this subject; and Captain Wilson, now Commander on the Australian Station, who had given great attention to the matter, had 574 estimated the annual loss by desertion at 500 men. Captain Wilson further estimated the cost of training a seaman at £300 to £400, so that, by this large amount of desertion, they lost between £200,000 to £300,000 a-year. Captain Wilson proposed an addition to the pay of the seamen at the rate of 2d. per day for every five years of service on a rating not lower than that of able seamen, and 3d. for each rank above that of able seamen. For his own part, he should be very sorry to press any particular proposal on this subject upon the Admiralty; he hoped he had done sufficient in drawing their attention to the matter. Whatever the increase of pay might be, he would suggest that it might properly be confined to sea-going ships, and perhaps even to certain foreign stations. Under the existing Regulations, married men were considerable losers by serving in a sea-going ship as compared with a harbour-ship. All the circumstances being taken into view, there was a very strong argument in favour of giving a somewhat higher rate of pay to the men on foreign stations. Desertions were comparatively rare on the home stations, while in the Mediterranean, East Indies, China, and other parts of the world, desertion was causing great anxiety. Only the other day he received a long and able letter on this subject from an Admiral holding a command on one of these stations where the Navy suffered most from desertion. A few reforms such as he had mentioned would, he thought, go far to check the evil. The next remark he desired to make was that it appeared to him the flag list was too small, and did not give sufficient choice of officers for many of the high and responsible offices winch had to be filled. He now passed from the personnel to the matériel of the Navy; and the experience of the past year lent especial importance to the subject. There were the Special Service Fleets under Admiral Hornby and Admiral Key; and while no one could doubt that both these Squadrons were well able to meet with any combination of naval power now existing in foreign nations, yet it did not follow that all the ships composing these Fleets were faultless, and that they had no deficiencies which it was not desirable to make good. In the Special Service Squadron commanded by Admiral Key, the coast-defence ships 575 were a prominent feature, and the Glatton, the Gorgon, and their sister ships had formed the subject of some rather unfavourable discussion at the United Service Institution, where it was said that no vessel could be accepted as efficient for the defence of the stormy coasts of Great Britain which was not absolutely seaworthy. It was admitted that the Gorgon and her sister ships of the same typo did not fulfil that essential condition. The defects of that class of ship, and the comparatively inexpensive remedies which might be applied to make those defects good, were matters which had been suggested by the Committee on Designs, and it was their unanimous Report that unless a certain superstructure, extending along a considerable portion of each side, was put on, these vessels would be fit to go from port to port in fine weather only. Admiral Ryder, who was a Member of that Committee, had said that was rather a startling statement to make with respect to a ship of war. Yet nothing had been done with a view to carry out the suggestion of the Committee on Designs, though their Report was made at least five years ago. With the superstructure proposed by the Committee, the Gorgon and her sister ships would present a considerable resemblance, of course with differences in point of size, to the Dreadnought, which, he ventured to say, was one of the most formidable and successful fighting ships at present in the Navy of this country. The buoyancy and stability of these ships would have been so much improved that they might have been sent, without misgiving and anxiety, to join the Fleet of Admiral Hornby in the Sea of Marmora; and there could be no question that in the narrow waters of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus, vessels of this kind would have been exceedingly valuable. He admired the noble iron-clads assembled in the Sea of Marmora; but they were designed for a very different kind of service to that in which they were now employed. They were designed for ocean service, and they wanted such vessels in the Service; but they also wanted a flotilla of the coast defence class and of the Monitor class, and he hoped that deficiency would soon be supplied. He would now turn from our own vessels to what was going on in foreign dockyards. There were four 576 Navies for which there were at the present time armoured vessels being built; and these were France, Italy, the United States, and Germany, and he invited the Committee to compare the programme of shipbuilding of our Admiralty with that of the countries he had just named—first, as to relative progress; and, secondly, as to the types adopted. He had compiled from the best sources a list of the armoured vessels in course of construction; and it showed that the tonnage in construction in Germany and Italy was about equal —namely, 27,000 tons each; while in the French Navy it was 67,000 tons; for the United States, 19,000 tons; and for our own Navy, 53,000 tons. The French, no doubt, very nearly approximated to our own strength of construction; but he was willing to accept the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty for the ensuing year as, upon the whole, not inadequate, having regard to the expenditure on the Vote of Credit during the past year. At the same time, he was bound to express his regret that there should have been any dismissal of dockyard workmen from any of the Establishments. He felt persuaded that fluctuations in numbers not only occasioned inconvenience to the workmen themselves, but that it involved a considerable additional expense to the country, because they could not engage labour as cheaply for temporary as for permanent employment; and when they considered the growing importance of our Colonial Empire, and the immense extent of our merchant shipping; and also looking to the fact that a considerable portion of our population were dependent upon imported food; and, further, looking to the naval expenditure which was incurred by other Powers with whom it was a spirit of national vanity rather than of necessity, he said, if our naval expenditure was maintained at £12,000,000, it would not be an extravagant charge to be imposed on the taxpayers of the British nation. Now, as to the types of vessels which were in construction for foreign nations — of armoured ships the French were building one turret ship of 10,000 or 12,000 tons, two centre battery ships of less cost, three corvettes, and four coast defence vessels, two of 5,500 tons, and two of 4,500 tons. The Germans were 577 building three armoured corvettes of about 7,400 tons, and four armoured gunboats of 1,000 tons each. The United States were building five "monitors," three of them being of considerable power. It would be observed that in Italy—and in Italy alone—designs of what he might call colossal dimensions had been adopted, and he believed they were approved of only to a limited extent by the officers of the Italian Navy. No vessels of anything like the dimensions of our Inflexible were being built, either for France, Germany, or the United States. With regard to the Italia, which he had seen at Castellamare, the right hon. Gentleman had kindly permitted him (Mr. Brassey) to go through the Dockyards, and perhaps he might be allowed to repay his kindness by stating what were the arguments against introducing a ship of the same class into their own Navy. He was aware that there was no proposal for a ship of that class at the present time; yet he could not forget the manner in which public opinion became excited on this matter, with the probable result of bringing pressure to bear on a future occasion, and therefore a few remarks on the subject might not be superfluous. There was much to admire in the details of the Italia; but, considering that the abandonment of side-armour washer essential and characteristic point, and remembering that her great dimensions were only accepted in order to allow of a great weight of armour to be carried on the side, he could not think that the Italians were right in carying out their design in such large dimensions. It had been advocated on the ground that, by adopting this immense tonnage, great superiority in regard to coal endurance was gained; but it was admitted that a ship of 8,000 tons could be built with equal speed to the Italia, and it was certain that a ship of 8,000 tons would be of more conspicuous superiority in evolutionary movements than a ship of 14,000 tons; and when the ram was resorted to, it would be an advantage of two to one. It appeared to him that, with an equal expenditure on building ships of the Ajax type, more advantage was obtained than by going to the dimensions of the Italia. He had heard it argued, however, with regard to the coal-endurance qualities of such a vessel, that in warfare it might decline an engagement, or escape from the pursuit 578 of smaller vessels, by steaming away. In other words, the Italia was to be reduced to the position of a vessel like the Alabama, which, perhaps, cost one-twentieth part of the amount in construction. He need not comment further upon that point, except to express his satisfaction that the right hon. Gentleman had not been beguiled into expending the money of this country on a vessel of the same colossal character. With regard to the general policy which should guide the acts of the Construction Department, he thought a most valuable opinion had been expressed in an Essay by Captain Collins, read at the United Service Institution. He said—Looking at the Fleet as a movable force, the great object should be to combine the power of concentration and dispersion in the greatest possible degree.Applying that to the Italia, it might be asked—"Does such an accumulation of expenditure on a single ship represent the greatest possible power of concentration and dispersion over the area which our Naval Forces have to get?" He could only express his satisfaction that these principles had prevailed with the Admiralty, and that the four latest ships now in construction were under 5,000 tons. It seemed to him that a vessel like the Conqueror expressly met the objections urged by Mr. King, the Chief Constructor to the United States Navy, against the principles of the Italia; and they could not have a better example of the great aim of Naval power than was afforded by the Belleisle or the Orion, bought last year with the Vote of Credit. He need only say, in conclusion, that the advocates of moderation in regard to tonnage had no desire to cut down Estimates. Their aim was to defend the Navy from the inevitable great risks of naval war, by urging that they should have an advantage in point of numbers.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
said, he wished to ask one question as regarded the Royal Marines. He agreed with every word that had been said by his hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Mr. T. Brassey) with regard to the efficiency of the Fleet. Englishmen looked with pride and with pleasure to the manner in which the Fleet had maintained the honour and credit of this country in face of great dangers, and had shown an example of discipline which had been the admiration of all nations. 579 It had been suggested to him that the Marines—than whom no more gallant or distinguished corps existed—were suffering at that moment under a sense of wrong, or even, as he hoped, misapprehension, or any other term which might be more properly applied. They felt that they had been treated in a manner which neither their own Regulations or the Admiralty instructions would permit. His point was, that in more than one instance—nay, on several occasions—the Regulations had been disregarded, and the Executive word of command had been given by Naval officers to the detriment of the officers of the Marines. He need not say how necessary it was, that in all duties performed by the Marines as Marines—which, in fact, were duties performed as soldiers —they should be commanded by their own officers. He was informed that the right hon. Gentleman had made inquiries of the different divisions, and that one and all complained of what they believed to be a grievance. He believed he was also correct in stating that the right hon. Gentleman had promised to issue a Memorandum, to show that no alteration in the Rules, as laid down for the Services, was intended. That Memorandum, though some months had passed, had not been issued. He believed he was not incorrect in stating that was so; and he felt assured that in asking the right hon. Gentleman that those regulations which had hitherto been in force should be maintained, that he would state distinctly and emphatically that such was his full determination. He believed, if a public statement of that kind were made by the right hon. Gentleman, it would do everything that was required to stay the feeling, which he would not say was one of dissatisfaction, but which was one, nevertheless, which ought not to exist between two gallant branches of Her Majesty's Service.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he thought it would be admitted, by all who followed the Navy Estimates, that it had become increasingly difficult in the last few years to understand them in respect of one of the most important items—namely, the shipbuilding programme. Just as they now had normal Budgets, followed by supplementary Budgets, so they had normal Navy Estimates, followed rapidly 580 by Votes of Credit and Supplementary Estimates, so that comparison year by year became almost impossible, and it was difficult to follow out the programme of work. The normal Estimates for the year 1877–8 were just short of £11,000,000; but within a very few weeks of the close of the financial year the Vote of Credit for £6,000,000 was taken, and although the Secretary of State for War assured the House that only a small portion of the Vote would be spent within the year, no sooner was it voted than the Departments set to work to spend as much as they could within the limited time. Ships were bought in great haste, and altogether it was found possible to spend about £2,000,000 for Naval purposes in about three weeks. This acted as a relief to the Navy Estimates for the next year; and last year the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty came down to the House and proposed what he called normal and unambitious Estimates, amounting to just over £11,000,000. These normal and unambitious Estimates were followed in the course of the Session by two Supplementary Estimates, amounting to nearly £1,000,000 more, of which about £300,000 was to be spent on the Dockyards. Yet, notwithstanding this great addition of Supplementary Estimates, the programme of work in shipbuilding was again most seriously in arrear. There was a deficiency in the ships promised in the programme of 2,600 tons, which was mainly in respect of iron-clads. Five new iron-clads were to be commenced in the Yards, and advanced from 500 to 800 tons each. Three of these were not yet begun; two of them had been advanced by a few tons only. The Inflexible, which had been six years on the stocks, and which ought to be finished as soon as possible, was 1,000 tons in arrear, and her completion was delayed another year. The Ajax and Agamemnon were each about 1,000 tons in arrear. So far as he could understand, this grave deficiency in iron-clads had been supplemented by building unarmoured vessels and the converting of the armaments of the Superb and the Neptune; but he could hardly suppose that these were to be put against the building of the Inflexible. This, he observed, was a most serious state of things, and was only another proof of what he had often said 581 before, that the more money spent in Dockyards the less was spent in shipbuilding. The normal Estimates for the coming year provided for an even less programme in shipbuilding in the Dockyards than those of last year— namely, 12,000 tons instead of 13,500; while the same number of hands were to be employed in the Yards. That seemed to him to be a very small amount of work to be performed by so large an expenditure. There was to be a reduction of 1,000 men in the Marines, a reduction in the Coastguard, a reduction of 1,000 boys, and also a number of men in the Naval Reserve. Therefore, there was to be a reduction in the personnel of the Fleet in almost every respect. Though there was a reduction of £500,000 in the Estimates, he hoped they might be able to get through the next year without another Supplementary Estimate; but, looking to the war in South Africa, which would undoubtedly involve additional expense in transport service, they could hardly believe that would be the case. No one could say what other pleasant surprises might be in store for them. The principle of mixing up the normal with the Supplementary Estimates made it necessary, in order to understand the programme of work, to look back over a series of years. The present Government had now been five full years in Office, and it was possible to compare their expenditure on new ships, and on the repairs of ships, with that of the previous Administration. He had not himself made any objection to the increased expenditure on the Navy during the last five years. He had felt that a spirited policy involved a spirited expenditure. Being under the belief that the increased expenditure was mainly devoted to the building of new ships, he had thought that it would add to the plant of the Navy, and was not therefore money thrown away. Gentlemen opposite, who had been connected with the Admiralty, had no reason to complain of the spirit in which they had been treated by those on that side of the House, or of captious or Party criticism. He could not say that the Opposition had been met outside this House in quite the same spirit. Let him take the present Secretary to the Admiralty as an example. In a speech which he had made in Lancashire, in the course of 582 the Recess, he had been reported to say—When the Government took over the Navy from their Predecessors it was in a very bad state. Mr. Ward Hunt did not like to say all he knew about it. There was bad administration, and if the Liberals said it was economy, he said it was bad economy, for it was a bad thing to leave the world unprotected to save a shilling or two at home. There was a great deal of discontent, for everything was stinted; not that the First Lord of the Admiralty wished that it should be stinted, but he could not get the money out of the Treasury or from Mr. Gladstone, who was very close-fisted, and the consequence was that the Navy was wanting in efficiency, not only in ships, but in men, and in the civil branches of the Admiralty, which was a very important matter. The present Government had thought fit, however, to strengthen the Navy, and they placed a sum of money at the disposal of the First Lord of the Admiralty, and that money was remarkably well spent.That was an extraordinary statement for the Secretary to the Admiralty to make, and it had been repeated again and again, and had become a main part of the Tory capital. It was sufficient answer to point out, so far as the ships were concerned, that of the magnificent fleets collected in the Channel and in the Mediterranean last year, for public service in the event of war, with one exception, every vessel was built or completed—or nearly completed—by the Predecessors of the present Government, and not one of those laid down by them was sufficiently advanced to take part in any service last year. The excess in expenditure in the last five years, as compared with the previous five years, had been exactly £8,000,000; and, taking into account the extraordinary fall in the price of stores and shipbuilding materials, he might say more. With that immense increase, they had not the addition of a single man or officer to the personnel of the Navy. If it were true, as had been said by the Secretary to the Admiralty, that the present Government found the Navy inefficient as regarded men, they had not removed that inefficiency in any way. But it was not true, and the best evidence of that was that the present Government were now proposing to reduce the personnel of the Navy. The number of men and of Reserves, as fixed by his right hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) in 1869, had stood the test of experience. When, last year, war was imminent, it was satisfactory to find that all the available ships of war were manned without difficulty, without even 583 calling out the Naval Reserve. Neither had it been found necessary to increase the Civil Departments of the Admiralty. On the contrary, the present First Lord had been able to carry the reductions of clerks, which were so much complained of, still further, and to pension off some 60 clerks in the Accountant General's Department. As he had already said, the main cause of the increased expenditure during the past five years came under three heads— namely, the Dockyard Vote, the Stores Vote, the Votes for Machinery and Ships built by contract. It was under those heads that the House must look for the excess of expenditure over the previous five years, amounting to nearly £5,000,000, on the normal Votes only, and exclusive of the Vote of Credit and Supplementary Votes, and exclusive of the advantages derived from the enormous fall of prices within the last four years, which must, or should have, increased the savings of the Admiralty by, at least, another £1,000,000. What, then, had they got for their £5,000,000 or £6,000,000? If expended in new ships, it might have produced for us 16 to 19 vessels like the Devastation, complete with engines on board; or 20 to 24 vessels like the Shannon; or, if spent on unarmoured vessels, might have built for us 120,000 tons of cruisers with their machinery on board — a tonnage more than equal to all the unarmoured vessels we had in commission at the present time. What had it been spent on? Two Returns had lately been laid on the Table of the House which threw much light on the expenditure of the last five or six years. One of those Papers was laid upon the Table by the Secretary to the Admiralty, and it showed the expenditure upon the ships built by contract or in the Dockyards during the past 10 years, and the tonnage, and the amount expended in each year. The other Return, which was moved for by the right hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. Groschen), showed the expenditure in detail in the repair of every ship in the Dockyards during the past four years. With the aid of those two Returns, they were able to form a very accurate opinion as to how the money voted by Parliament during the last five years had been expended. What struck him first with regard to those two Returns, when he examined them carefully, 584 was surprise at the little results that had been attained. He was under the impression that a large proportion of the excess of expenditure during the last five years had been caused by adding to the number of ships, or building an increased amount of tonnage, either in the Dockyards or by contract. But, on looking closely at the Returns, it would be found that the amount of tonnage built during the last five years was not in excess of the amount of tonnage built during the previous five years. His right hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract laid it down in 1869, in making a new departure in naval policy, as a maxim, that, in order to provide what was necessary to maintain the Navy and to supply the place of vessels becoming obsolete or vessels being condemned in each year as not worth repairing, it was necessary to build annually between 19,000 and 20,000 tons of new ships, of which about one-half should be iron-clads, and the other half unarmoured vessels. During the five years of the late Administration, this programme was exactly fulfilled. But when he came to the next five years of increased expenditure, he found that, notwithstanding the greatly increased expenditure, the aggregate tonnage of the ships was practically the same as in the previous five years. During the five years last past, the aggregate tonnage had been about 103,000 tons, with a cost of £4,800,000, excluding those bought out of the Vote of Credit. But there was this further fact, that in the 100,000 tons built during the last five years, the proportion of iron-clads was very much less than in the previous five years, only 40,000 tons of iron-clads and 60,000 tons of unarmoured vessels had been built during the last five years, as compared with 50,000 tons of iron-clads and 50,000 tons of unarmoured vessels in the previous five years. There was, therefore, a deficiency of 10,000 tons of iron-clads. What he would venture to say, therefore, was this— that, notwithstanding the increased expenditure of £5,000,000 during the past five years, at the rate of £1,000,000 a-year, yet there had been no practical increase of force in the Navy, and there was actually a deficiency of 10,000 tons of iron-clads. It, no doubt, would be said that this was more than made up for out of the Vote of Credit; but he was now speaking only of the 585 normal expenditure on shipbuilding. He would later refer to the ships bought under the Vote of Credit; but would first allude to the question of repairs, and other matters contained in the Return moved for by his right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London, which showed features no less extraordinary than those be had previously alluded to. After all that was said five years ago about the condition of our iron-clads, he expected to find a very greatly increased expenditure upon them. Comparing the average of the four years of the present Administration with the five years of the past, he found that there had been an increase, on an average, of about £100,000 a-year in the expenditure on the repairs of iron-clads in commission and reserve; a sum which, curiously enough, was about the amount which it was calculated five years ago that it was necessary to provide for the increased repair of iron-clads, due to recent experience. That sum would account for the repair of two iron-clads a-year, and would amount in five years to £500,000; but it was a very small proportion of the increased expenditure of £5,000,000. When he looked over the other part of the Return—that relating to the repair of unarmoured vessels—there was little in the Return which justified the enormously increased expenditure. There was a very great deal of very questionable work in the repair of vessels which were not worth repair— such as depôt ships, store ships, receiving ships, and repairs of all kinds, which he thought were open to great objection. He would remind the Committee that it was in this direction that there was danger of waste of Naval expenditure taking place. It required the greatest possible care and watchfulness to prevent expenditure in that direction, which did not really add to the efficiency of the Navy. He must venture to point out to the Committee the way in which money had been thrown away during the last four years on these matters. He found from the Return that the Harpy, an old vessel, built in 1862, at a cost of £16,000, was repaired in 1877, at the cost of £13,000. The Jackal, a vessel built, in 1844, at a cost of £12,000, was repaired, in 1875, at a cost of £10,000. The Industry, a vessel built, in 1854, at an expenditure of 586 £20,000, was repaired, in 1877, at a cost of £14,000. The Enchantress, the Admiralty yacht, built in 1862, at a cost of £44,000, was repaired, in 1877, at a cost of £29,000. The Salamis, built in 1863, at an expenditure of £42,000, was repaired in 1876 for £23,000. The Fawn, which cost £28,000 in 1856, was repaired at a cost of £16,000; and the Plover, which cost £34,000, was repaired for £20,000. The Lord Warden, one of the old wooden vessels, plated with armour, was repaired, about three years ago, at an expenditure of £34,000. He ventured at the time to enter a protest against this expenditure, as it did not provide for the removal of a broad belt of rotten timbers at her water-line. Many such vessels had been repaired in the way he had mentioned. The Liffey was repaired, at a cost of £17,000, in order to be sent out to Coquimbo, on the coast of South America, for a store ship. The Urgent was repaired, at a cost of £22,000, and sent out to Jamaica as a depôt ship. Both these cases were instances of most useless and unnecessary extravagance. Then the Orontes, a troop-ship, was lengthened 60 feet by contract, at a schedule of prices, a very undesirable method for the Admiralty to adopt. The total cost of lengthening her, including new boilers and engines, was £137,000. He believed that a new vessel might have been built for a somewhat less sum. Such cases as these were frequently brought before them in former days when it was proposed to repair such vessels. The late Administration had always declined to do so unless positive benefit could be shown. In his opinion, it would have been better to have sold the Orontes, and to have bought another vessel. Then, again, the expenditure on hulks had increased from an average of £5,100 a-year to £16,700 a-year; while that upon steam-tugs and yard-craft had risen from£38,000 to£70,000 a-year. Coming to the vessels which had been bought under the Vote of Credit, as he had already pointedout,£2,000,000 of the sum voted by Parliament last year was expended for naval purposes. Four iron-clads were bought, and those vessels were, no doubt, of a very useful and valuable character, and he had no objection to make to their purchase. Still, he could not but think that the purchase was effected very hastily, for he found 587 in one case that a very exorbitant price was paid. The Independencia, now called the Neptune, was bought from the Brazilian Government for £614,000, including her armament; that appeared to him a very large price, notwithstanding that the armament was worth £41,000. No sooner, however, was the vessel purchased, than the Naval officers of the Admiralty, who were responsible for the Naval armaments, considered it necessary to alter her armament; they considered that they could not be responsible for it, if her armament of Whitworth guns were admitted into the Service. That circumstance was the cause of very great delay, and no less than eight months elapsed before she received her new armament. Then, other Naval officers condemned her fittings—others her masts and rigging. Last year £37,000 was spent upon her conversion, and in the present year it was proposed to spend upon her another £17,000, besides the cost of her new armament. So that £54,000 would be spent in converting this vessel—in rearming her, altering her masts and rigging, and re-fitting her—and her total cost to the country would amount to nearly £700,000—about twice the cost of the Devastation or the Monarch. He believed he was correct in saying that the Devastation, with her engines, cost £350,000; whereas the Neptune, late the Independencia, would cost altogether £700,000. He had quoted these matters as illustrations of the way in which money had been spent on the repair of vessels during the last five years. They were, many of them, matters known by experience to him; but he was sure that if he could pick out these particular cases from the Return, there must be at least 10 times the number of cases upon which he could form no opinion where money had been laid out in an equally wasteful and unnecessary manner. He would now call attention to a question of steam boilers for Her Majesty's ships; and, in doing so, he need hardly remind the House that the question of boilers for Her Majesty's ships had been a most fruitful cause of expenditure. Of late years it had become known how very short a time the boilers of Her Majesty's ships lasted compared with the boilers of the Merchant Service. Not only was this a very important matter as regarded expenditure, but it was more so as regarded the efficiency of Her Majesty's 588 vessels; because taking out old boilers and putting in new was not only, an enormously expensive process, but it involved a great length of time during which the ships were taken from service. Frequently from eight to ten months were taken up in putting in new boilers, and during that period the ironclad, perhaps, when most wanted, was practically withdrawn from service. The putting in of boilers into the Black Prince cost £79,000, and occupied a year; for the Minotaur £60,000; and for the Hercules £55,000. If, therefore, anything could be done to lengthen the duration of the boilers, great economy would be effected, and the efficiency of the ships in the Navy would be much increased. The subject was a serious one, for the average duration of boilers in the Royal Navy was a little over five years; whereas in the Merchant Service it was nine to ten. During the last year of the late Administration it came to the knowledge of the right hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen) that boilers in the Merchant Service lasted much longer than boilers in the Royal Navy, and he determined to appoint a Committee to inquire into the matter, and to investigate the reason for this apparent anomaly. Before anything was done, Mr. Ward Hunt came into office; he took up the same proposal, and appointed a Committee to inquire into this most important subject. It struck him (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) that that Committee could not have been well selected. It sat for nearly four years, and expended large sums of money. The cost of that Committee had been nearly £17,000, exclusive of printing some bulky volumes of evidence which were perfectly worthless. He had endeavoured to wade through the evidence taken before that Committee, and he ventured to say that it was a mass of nonsense. No experiments were carried out to a conclusion, so far as he could make out, and no results of any kind had been attained. At the end of four years the Committee made its first Report, and recommended that it should be re-appointed; but the right hon. Gentleman opposite had put an end to it, and had appointed a Departmental Committee on the subject, who were carrying on, in a feeble manner, some further investigations. But five years had now elapsed since 589 this was first looked upon as a most important subject, and as one absolutely necessary to be dealt with, and no result had been arrived at, or the problem solved, why boilers in the Navy did not last so long as in the Merchant Service. It was a matter of fact, and not of experiment, that while this futile Committee was sitting a whole generation of boilers had been wearing out. Of all the mass of materials in the Report to which he had referred there were only two pages of the smallest value. One showed the average duration of boilers in the Navy, as illustrated by various ships in it; and the other was a Return, from various Steam Shipping Companies in the country, of their boilers. That Return showed that the average duration of boilers of the Royal Navy was five or six years; while in the Merchant Service the boilers lasted nine or ten years. That proved that this was a most serious matter, and one which, as he had already said, involved not only economy, but efficiency. A Return was presented to the House last year, at the instance of his hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Mr. T. Brassey), which showed how important the subject was, and how serious the question of boilers had become. That Return gave him the cases of a number of vessels now under repair in Her Majesty's Dockyards, and of the cost of putting in new boilers. Among the vessels in which new boilers were being placed was the Encounter, after four years and four months' commission. New boilers would have to be placed in her at a cost of £32,000. The Druids boilers, after a service of four years and ten months, were to be replaced at a cost of £28,000; while the Briton, after a service of four years and five months, required new boilers at a cost of £24,000. The Woodlark, after four years and four months, required new boilers at an expenditure of £14,000. The Royal Yacht, Osborne, was to have new boilers at a cost of £20,000, after three years' service only. He was informed, however, that this was due, not so much to the want of repair in the boilers, but to the fact that it would be necessary to reduce the pressure of steam, which would entail a loss of speed in the vessel of half-a-knot an hour. Therefore, it was thought expedient not to allow the speed of the vessel to be reduced. Last year the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord 590 of the Admiralty said that there was reason to believe that the intermittent use of steam by vessels in Her Majesty's Service was even more damaging than continuous use, as in the Merchant Service. That was an excuse which he had heard before, but had not put any trust in; it was a point not touched upon in the Report or the evidence to which he had alluded. On the contrary, there was much in the evidence taken before the Committee to disprove it. There were reports from a line of steamers from Hamburgh to Calais, which ran under steam and sail, sometimes one and sometimes the other, and got up steam on the average 20 times on a voyage. Yet those boilers lasted on an average 10 years. There could be no reason, therefore, to suppose that the intermittent use of boilers was really the cause of their deterioration. He ventured to think that there was great reason to complain of the way in which the subject had been treated by the present Board of Admiralty. They had practically done nothing in this matter, and five years had been allowed to elapse from the commencement of the Inquiry, and they were still just as far off as ever from any determination. This was only another illustration of the manner in which the Navy was now administered. If the Secretary to the Admiralty, instead of denouncing economy in Lancashire, were to devote his energies to this important subject, and endeavour—as he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) believed he might—to increase the duration of boilers in Her Majesty's ships, he would not only effect a great economy, but promote the efficiency of Her Majesty's vessels; and he would also be doing something to prevent the money now voted from being spent on the useless objects to which he had called attention, and to see that it was spent in adding to the number of new ships. He would then, with far greater reason, be able to boast of the increased expenditure which had been undertaken by the Conservative Government.
§ MR. A. F. EGERTON
accepted the challenge which had been given at the beginning and close of the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Shaw Lefevre). He begged to say also that he intended to abide by every word of the speech he had made in Lancashire. Of course, in 591 that House, it was not their object to attack each other so much as to discuss the Estimates; but it was different when they went out into the country, as many of the hon. Member's speeches at Beading would show. In his (Mr. Egerton's) speech at Lancashire, he referred to what was notorious at the time of which he spoke—namely, that there were ships in the Navy which were of no use at all— and that statement had been made in the House in his hearing by the late Mr. Ward Hunt. When he spoke of the state of the personnel of the Navy, he had also referred to another fact, which was the dissatisfaction existing on account of the pay; and he would now add that at the time mentioned almost every branch of the Service was, on that account, in a state of chronic discontent. But although he did not propose to go into further details upon that subject, he would say that he was prepared to prove every charge made by him in the speech alluded to by the hon. Member. To come to the questions more immediately before the House—the hon. Member had remarked upon and compared the amount of shipbuilding effected by the present Board and that accomplished by the former during the Administration of the late Government. Upon this point he (Mr. Egerton) confessed that, having at his disposal at the moment neither the necessary time nor figures, he was not prepared to follow the hon. Member into the details of the question raised; but would simply state his belief that the present Board of Admiralty had done very good work both in the building and repairing programmes. Especial stress had also been laid upon the fact that the present Board had devoted more attention to repairs than to shipbuilding. That, he would point out, had been the result of a deliberate policy, for it was considered absolutely necessary and indisputably the right course to repair such ships as were worth repairing. That policy recommended itself upon the ground of cheapness, because, had these ships been set aside, new ones would have been required. With regard to the especial reference made by the hon. Member to the Jackal, Industry, Enchantress, and other vessels repaired at the cost of various sums of money, he wished to state that these vessels and their repairs formed the subjects of anxious discussion, both in the 592 Controller's Office and before the Board, before it was decided that they should be repaired. Those remarks would have a particular application in the case of the Enchantress, instanced as not being worth the cost of repair. The Board had very anxiously considered that case, and it had appeared to them better to repair her than pay for an entirely new ship; the result was, that the Admiralty now possessed a very useful vessel for dispatch and other purposes. The hon. Gentleman had assumed, also, that the Lord Warden was not in an efficient state, although she had undergone repairs, because she had not joined the Squadron last year. But that opinion was entirely erroneous, for she was certainly efficient, and was one of the first ships of the Reserve. She was, moreover, a vessel of the most useful kind, and, as everybody knew, one of the finest specimens of the old class of wood and iron ships existing. With regard to the Liffey, it had been considered necessary that they should have a coal depôt at Coquimbo, and that vessel, having been regarded as suitable for the purpose, was repaired and sent out. In the same way the Urgent had been sent to Jamaica, where the old depôt ship had been destroyed. He would point out that the case of the Orontes, to which reference had also been made, was under discussion when the last Government quitted Office. It was then a question whether or not she should be lengthened; and the present Board, after a very long and serious discussion, had thought it to be cheaper, and altogether more economical, to improve this vessel than to leave her in a comparative state of inefficiency. Accordingly a large sum of money had been spent upon her, and she had turned out to be a great success. Passing from repairs to the ships purchased under the Vote of Credit, he (Mr. Egerton) said that no doubt the price paid for the Independencia—namely, £614,000—was a high one; but he had been informed, by very good authorities, that the Brazilian Government considered that the vessel had cost them upwards of £700,000. In view of the fact that the vessel had come into our possession with a considerable quantity of stores belonging to her, he thought that they had made a very good bargain, especially when the improvements effected upon her were considered. On the question concerning the 593 wearing of boilers dwelt upon by the hon. Gentleman, he was sorry to be obliged to admit that he agreed with him in many of his remarks, although he could not go so far as to say that the Report of the Committee which was appointed to investigate that subject was all nonsense, and that their deliberations had initiated and discovered nothing. Still, he agreed that an unconscionable time had been spent in preparing that Report, and he did not see that much of practical value resulted there from. On the other hand, in considering whether the Navy boilers were out faster than those of the Merchant Service, he could not think that it was altogether right to put aside the one cause given for the more rapid destruction of the former, and that was the intermittent way in which they were worked. He was bound to say that, in his opinion, that cause had a good deal to do with their decay. He thought, also, that their preservation much depended upon the care and attention of the chief engineers, which he hoped would increase with their experience, and produce better results than hitherto.
§ MR. RYLANDS
I am desirous, Sir, of saying a word as to the Estimates laid on the Table by the right hon. Gentleman. Of course, upon the statement of those Estimates, there appears to be a reduction, when the Vote of Credit is added to last year's Expenditure; but I do not feel satisfied, and I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman has little ground to believe that those Estimates, which we are now considering, will be maintained during the 12 months of the next financial year. The right hon. Gentleman has carefully guarded himself from leading us to suppose that those Estimates include expenditure which may be incurred in connection with the South African War; and, from what we know—from the way in which first one war and then another is sprung upon us—I am sure that we can hardly rely upon those Estimates not being exceeded; and even at their present amount, I believe that they are Estimates far in excess of what might be fairly spent upon the Naval Service. I do not wish, for one moment, to raise any complaint against the First Lord of the Admiralty. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will fill the distinguished Office he now fills with great care and 594 ability, and with great industry, and with great anxiety to promote the Public Service; but the right hon. Gentleman has entered into what I may call a damnosa hœreditas. This system of Admiralty administration has been handed down to him; and it is a system which has been admitted on all hands to have led to gigantic blunders, and a very great amount of wasteful expenditure. Hon. Gentlemen may smile; but it is a matter on which there is now no dispute. We may look back at former proceedings in connection with the Admiralty, and throughout there have been these blunders, and these blunders have led to great expenditure. I am not going to view this in a Party light. I am not going to say that this Admiralty Board is worse than previous Admiralty Boards. I do not wish for a moment to say that one Party has been worse than another Party in Admiralty mismanagement, or that the present Government has been one of the most extravagant. What I complain of is that, while it has been proved that former Boards of Admiralty have made very serious blunders, and have continually involved this country in wasteful outlay, we are asked to believe in the perfection of the present Board of Admiralty. Well I, for one, am not prepared to believe that the present Board of Admiralty is in any degree possessed of administrative ability superior to that which has been possessed by previous Boards. I wish to point out to the Committee that the Admiralty management of Her Majesty's Navy is, in its essential characteristics, the same now that it has been for the last 50 years. During those 50 years, there have been a series of efforts made to reform that administration. I dare say hon. Gentlemen will remember that in former years in this House Mr. Cobden, Mr. W. S. Lindsay, the former Member for Sunderland, and Lord Clarence Paget, from time to time, denounced the mismanagement in Admiralty affairs, and complained of the system in which Admiralty business was conducted. In addition to efforts from those Gentlemen, we have had efforts put forth by others. We have had the hon. Gentleman the Member for Pembroke (Mr. E. J. Reed), whose absence, at the present time, we must regret; and we have had my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. Seely), who has, in season 595 and out of season, continually pressed upon the Admiralty the necessity of an entire change in Admiralty administration. Then, we have had other great efforts made in the public Press, in favour of reform of the Admiralty. Some year or two ago there were a series of articles in The Times, which were written with remarkable ability, which were written with great knowledge of the subject, and which, in fact, brought under the notice of the public, in very cogent and striking language, the defects which, in the judgment of the writers, attach to Admiralty administration. Notwithstanding all these efforts, continued by men of such eminence, supported by the leading organ of the public Press, I think I may venture to say that these efforts have been almost entirely fruitless, and that there has been no Admiralty reform. It has been impossible to produce any effect upon the Admiralty administration. The Board of Admiralty have been described by The Times as "ruling Pashas." It has intrenched itself in the traditions of the Department, and in the powerful class interests by which it is surrounded, and I think I may also say that it has perpetrated very often ignorant errors which are veiled under the assumption of absolute infallibility. Now, Sir, my hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Mr. Brassey) has spoken about the present expenditure; he seemed to think that expenditure was not sufficient. Well, I think nearly £11,000,000 a-year is very well for Admiralty expenditure. My hon. Friend seemed to be dissatisfied about the sum; he seemed to think there should be £12,000,000 a-year expended. Well, it is a large sum of money to spend, and the difficulty that we meet with is—that any opposition we offer to this large expenditure for the purposes of the Navy is set down as proceeding from a desire to weaken the right hand of England's power. But, Sir, if it is a fact that in £11,000,000 or £12,000,000 there is a waste of £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 a-year—if you could get as powerful a Navy for some millions a-year less, it would be the duty of this Committee and of this House to bring to bear, if it is possible to do so, on the Board of Admiralty the necessity of a change which would secure a more economical and more efficient administra- 596 tion of the Public Service. The difficulty we have in rousing public opinion on this question is simply this—that there is an idea that no man should talk about the administration of the Admiralty unless he has a technical knowledge of the subject. I see hon. and gallant Gentlemen opposite who, no doubt, think it is a very presumptuous thing on my part to say anything about Admiralty matters. I am certain of this— that if I ventured to express any confident opinion about the best construction of a ship, or if I ventured to tell the Admiralty what they ought to do with regard to Naval matters, I should very properly be chargeable with great presumption. I do not, however, attempt anything of the kind. The questions to which I am calling the attention of the Committee are questions which do not require any technical knowledge at all; they are questions which can be considered and decided by the common sense of business men. Now, Sir, the contention that I wish to urge on the Committee is this—that, without any reference to mere technical knowledge or Naval experience, without being connected with Naval service, we may judge of the results of the Admiralty administration—we may judge of the tree by the fruits it bears. What are the fruits of the administration of the Admiralty? I will tell you two or three of them; and I challenge anyone to deny the truth, of these charges, which are based on the result of the working of the Admiralty Department. Now, in the first place, I charge them with slowness in adopting improvements. Does any hon. Gentleman deny that the Admiralty has been slow in such matters? This is a matter we can discuss without any technical knowledge. It so happens that I have a good knowledge of compound engines, and I know that they have been in common use for years, and that by their adoption a great saving is effected in fuel. They were in use a very considerable time before the Board of Admiralty would listen to the proposal that they should be adopted in our vessels of war. Does it require any technical knowledge to find out that the Board of Admiralty were remiss in not adopting such an improvement for years before they were induced to adopt it? And yet, so long as they delayed attention to that matter, they were leading to 597 a very largely increased expenditure in the fuel of our ships. There is another charge I wish to bring against them, and it is that when they settle upon the design of a vessel of war, our experience has been that that design has been greatly altered and modified during the time the ship is building. Is that denied? Yet, if that is true, you cannot take a ship which has been laid on certain lines—you cannot alter and carve it without expending a very much larger sum of money than would otherwise be required. It is clear that the proper thing to do is to settle, under the best advice, the type of the vessel, and to refrain from constant interference with that type while it is in process of construction. I make another charge—and hon. Gentlemen will know from their own knowledge that what I am saying is absolutely correct—I say ships have frequently been begun, but by the time they have been completed, the type of them has become obsolete; numbers of vessels, within a very short time after their completion, have been admitted to be of an obsolete type. I take another instance of the maladministration of the Admiralty, and it is that they have adopted a very large and unnecessary variety of types of vessels, and in this matter I shall fortify myself—for I am now approaching a technical branch of the question—by quoting the opinion of the hon. Member for Pembroke, who, two years ago, said in The Times—Very many of the differences in our ships arise from fancy, from caprice, from divided counsels, from the competition of influences within the Admiralty—in a word, from maladministration.If these charges are true—if it is a fact that the Admiralty in their administration have been guilty of results such as those I have described—the Committee will agree with me that I and others have a right to bring them forward. This is not a question of technicality; it is a question of business, which men engaged in large manufacturing operations are entitled to speak upon. What did the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Norfolk say 20 years ago? I will quote from him. I am glad to see him present; and I do not think that at the present moment he would materially modify the words he then uttered. The hon. Gentleman, 20 years ago, said that 598He had asked many of the most eminent owners of private yards in the country this question—'Supposing you were to carry on your yards upon the system on which Her Majesty's Dockyards are conducted, what would be the result?' And the invariable answer had been—'If we were to approach that system with the Bank of England at our back, we should be ruined in six months.'"—[Hansard, cliii. 62.]I supplement that, for I have spoken to ship-builders; and I say there is not the slightest doubt whatever, notwithstanding what ship-builders may say in this House, that if you talk to them in private they will tell you that the system in force in the Dockyards belonging to the nation is such that, if brought to bear on their own businesses, would lead them to ruin. Just consider for a moment, looking at this as a great manufacturing operation, what means are taken to secure the best type of vessel being selected, and, furthermore, let us ask ourselves the question—"What is the system under which the manufacture or building of vessels is conducted?" Well, now, it appears to me that the Board of Admiralty, to a very great extent, are in the position of private firms carrying on a large business, and the Dockyards are the works in which the manufacturing business, over which these gentlemen preside, is carried on. The first thing I have to say of the gentlemen who conduct this business, turning over several millions a-year, is this — that they know nothing about the work in which they are engaged. That is the first charge I make. They are Naval officers—gallant men no doubt—who will do their duty to their Queen and country when they have to fly their flags on the ocean, and when they command a Squadron of ships, but that is not the point. We put them as a Board of Admiralty to manage a manufacturing business, and I say that these gallant Admirals know nothing of the business they are called upon to manage. They do not even profess to know it; it is not their profession at all, for they have no practical experience. In fact, they just come in and try their "prentice hands," which seems to be a very singular manner of managing one of the greatest businesses in the Kingdom. Then they talk about technical knowledge!—why, these gallant Admirals are in the same position as many of us outside the Board of Admiralty. Well, you say that the Admi- 599 ralty have advisers. You say—"They carry on this business, no doubt, in entire ignorance, but they have advisers." Let us see who they are. They have a Board of Constructors, and a President to guide that Board. That President is another Admiral, and he knows nothing about it. The Controller of the Navy may be in entire ignorance of the business over which he is placed, and no knowledge of Naval construction is considered necessary for a gallant Admiral to be placed over a Board of Constructors. How do they manage the Dockyards?" We find exactly the same system of management carried out. "How not to do it," is the principle of the Board of Admiralty. They place these great shipbuilding Yards—these great manufacturing Establishments— under the control of Naval Superintendents, who have entire management. These Naval Superintendents are Admirals or Naval Captains, who know nothing about the business they are called upon to conduct. They come there for three years at a time, and they come to the Dockyards in entire ignorance. They are there for about three years playing at the business, and then they leave the Dockyards, and another Admiral comes who is equally ignorant. Indeed, the Naval Superintendent of the Dockyards may be entirely destitute of technical knowledge, and yet he can overrule the constructors and engineers— he can interfere with the workmen, upset any arrangement which the constructor or engineer may consider necessary for the good management of the works; and I ask hon. Gentlemen who have experience in the management of a business, is it possible that a manufacturing business can be carried on with any efficiency when you place at the head of it a man utterly ignorant of the business; when you give such a man absolute control over people about the yard who have knowledge? And yet we find this system in force in our Dockyards; we find that it has been in force for the last 50 years, although the entire Navy has changed. We have steam power which was formerly unknown, and we have iron vessels in the place of wooden vessels, and we have large mechanical appliances which in the days of our grandfathers were completely unknown. I suppose that in Dockyard management technical knowledge is ab- 600 solutely necessary; but where it is most necessary, it is not to be found. Constructors and engineers are subordinated to superiors who are entirely ignorant of the business they control, and this is carried out even still further than that. These constructors and engineers in the Dockyards ought to be able to communicate directly with the authorities at Whitehall, but they are not allowed to do so. They cannot get at the Board of Admiralty, except through the Admiral commanding the Dockyard, and that Admiral sends up to the other Admiral, who is the President of the Board of Constructors; so, in point of fact, there is no independent means by which the Chief Constructors can reach the Admiralty except through the channel of the gallant gentlemen, who may be entirely ignorant of the business they have to carry on. I wish, before I sit down, to quote in connection with these observations a few very pertinent remarks which appeared in The Times, about two years ago—a period when The Times did excellent service in directing public attention to the administration of the Board of Admiralty. The Times said, very truly—Anyone who would reform our naval administration will have a heavy task before him. It requires to be decentralised; but all recent changes have been in the direction of centralisation. Each Dockyard ought to be a separate institution, with a local management, and with a separate body of naval constructors. If a new design for a ship is wanted, each Dockyard ought to be invited to furnish a design. Occasionally the private yards should be invited to compete, and the Admiralty, with the aid of a constructive committee, ought to decide between them. But to insure this, it would be necessary to have skilled management; whereas the present plan is to appoint as manager for two or three years a Rear Admiral in active service, who knows nothing of such matters, and is too old to learn them. In fact, it has been well said, by one who knows, that 'the worse he is the better he is' "—that is to say, that an Admiral with a little smattering of knowledge is more likely to interfere with the Dockyards in a way which is not calculated to promote their efficiency than a Naval Superintendent who confessedly knows nothing at all. I venture to say this to the First Lord—that if he wishes to get economy and good administration, the first thing he should do is to get rid of the Admirals who know nothing of the business entrusted to them, and substi- 601 tute in their place the best men he can find, who can bring to the management of this great manufacturing business the highest technical knowledge and skill, ripe experience and first-rate capacity;—get rid of cocked hats, swords and epaulettes, and approach the Dockyards as business institutions, conduct them in an economical manner, afford opportunities for obtaining the best suggestions respecting the construction of vessels of the best type; and I believe, if we could effect such reforms—revolutionary though they may be—the result would be that we should save a very large sum of money every year, and save a very great many of the blunders which have of late arisen, and I am afraid will arise, from maladministration.
§ MR. BENTINCK
observed, that the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) had quoted an opinion uttered by him (Mr. Bentinck) a good many years ago on the management of the affairs of the Admiralty. He still adhered to that opinion; but he totally differed with the hon. Gentleman in his views as to Admiralty maladministration. Indeed, he could conceive nothing more injurious to the good conduct of the Admiralty than what had been suggested by the hon. Member. He had always condemned the practice of having a civilian as First Lord of the Admiralty—not through any disparagement to the right hon. Gentleman, he might be sure. The hon. Gentleman had said that for 50 years the Admiralty had been incapable of improvement. That, he believed, was true. He remembered a story told when he was a young man of Mr. Croker, one of the ablest men that had ever sat in that House, or served the Admiralty. One day Mr. Croker addressed the Board in these words—My Lords, before you proceed to business I think it right to call your attention to the fact that there is an individual, whose name I will place before you, who has upon three separate occasions presumed to offer suggestions to your Lordships.That was looked upon in those days as the greatest possible offence. No one was allowed to have a different opinion from the Board of Admiralty—not because the nautical element was predominant, but because the civil element was in the ascendant. The hon. Gentleman had instituted a comparison between the cost of work in public yards 602 and in private yards; but he believed it was utterly impossible that business could be conducted on the same economical principles as in private yards. Another thing he would say was that he believed the work done in the public yards was perfection, which could not always be said of that done in the yards of private firms. Every shilling expended there we got the value for. But his chief object in rising was to express his regret at the statement, made with all the usual clearness and ability of the right hon. Gentleman, as to the future policy of the Government, so far as the Admiralty was concerned. And he must say that he thought the time had not arrived when those reductions could be made with safety and advantage to the country. In the first place, we had not been tested by war; and, in the second, we had no reserve of ships in the event of casualties, inevitable in a Naval action. He regretted exceedingly that they heard nothing of proposed arrangements for the construction of a class of ships which, though thoroughly provided with guns and armour, were capable of being handled under canvas, without being wholly dependent upon steam power. He had always endeavoured to impress that point on the Admiralty, but never with success. He could not think that the aspect of European affairs justified any such reductions as were proposed; and he thought that they should profit rather by the experience of the past, and take advantage of what was called a time of peace, for the purpose of being prepared for a possible, if not probable, time of war. In his opinion, the present state of European affairs looked more like an armed truce than a lasting peace; and, under these circumstances, he could not help regretting the reduction of the Naval Force, which must be the mainstay of the honour and interests, if not of the existence, of England. He would much rather the Government had proposed to increase, than to reduce, the Naval Force of the country.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty is always so conciliatory, so straightforward, so business-like, and so unaggressive in his Statements, that I cannot remember any occasion on which he has been attacked in the House, and I am not going to attack him to-night. It 603 appears to me that there are three positions filled by hon. Members in this House—hon. Members who are conciliatory in the House and out of the House. The right hon. Gentleman is one of that class. Then there are hon. Members who are ready to attack both in and out of the House. The hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) belongs to that class. And then there is a third class, which has been developed this evening, who are gentle in the House, but ready to go to the Provinces and be aggressive. The Financial Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. Egerton) is one of that class. I have listened to some portions of the speech of the First Lord with great interest, and to other portions with much pleasure, and I felt during a portion of it a thirst for knowledge which was not gratified. The right hon. Gentleman had said he hoped it was short and business-like; but it might, perhaps, have been shorter and more business-like if the right hon. Gentleman had said to the Committee—"Vote me £10,500,000 for the Navy, and depend upon it I will exercise great vigilance and economy in administering it." There is no indication of general policy in the speech. We have heard nothing in regard to the disposition of the ships or the great services the Navy have performed. He has not told us whether it is necessary to maintain the present largo number of ships in commission, nor has he told us whether he intends to organize a Flying Squadron. The right hon. Gentleman places the Estimates on the Table, and explains them; but he does not tell us what type of ships he proposes to build, or what new ships are laid down. I asked a Question in the earlier part of the evening in regard to the employment of Marines at the Cape, and the answer of the right hon. Gentleman was so far satisfactory; but I cannot help thinking that it is greatly to be regretted that the Marines have not been employed when there was the necessity to fill up the other regiments by volunteers. With the Marines no volunteering is necessary, for they are ready to sail at 48 hours' notice, and 5,000 of that distinguished body might have been despatched at once. The Committee may remember that in the case of the Ashantee War a small body of Marines was despatched within 48 hours of the receipt of the news, and 604 the prompt despatch of that body of troops was of the utmost importance. I hope it may not be found necessary to send any more troops to the Cape; but, in future, I trust the Marines will not be forgotten, and that justice will be done to such an able Force. With regard to the personnel of the Navy, we see a reduction proposed of 1,000 Marines; and I cannot quite understand the explanation which has been given for that reduction, except that because they were 650 short of the 14,000, therefore the right hon. Gentleman thought it better to reduce the number to 13,000. But is that politic? Many regiments are being called upon to furnish men to other corps; and at this particular moment, of all others, the right hon. Gentleman chooses to reduce the Marines from 14,000 to 13,000. I confess I do not see sufficient reason why the abnormal number which has been maintained for many years past should be altered now. The only argument—and that is not a good one—is, that if you put 13,000 in the Estimates instead of 14,000, there will be a corresponding reduction in the charge for these men. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman can frankly say that 1,000 men can be spared. As to the reduction in the number of boys, I hope the right hon. Gentleman is right; because the number ought to be kept at such a point as to enable us always to keep a Force of 18,000 or 19,000 blue-jackets. The Financial Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. Egerton) says that when he came into Office, five years ago, not only was there inefficiency in ships, but in men also; and, in a very modest way, he says he will stand by every word he has uttered. But during the five years the Conservative Government has been in power, they have not found it necessary to increase the number of men, or Marines, or boys. The fact is, that the disputes and discussions of the past should now be forgotten; but I have noticed that the hon. Member, and others of his Friends, are continually going back on these five years; and when he repeats, in his official capacity, things which his late Chief communicated to him, I think he is scarcely acting fairly, because it is impossible to controvert him. He has the Committee entirely at his mercy; and whatever he chooses to say as regards confidential communications made 605 to him, we are not able to contradict. I hope, therefore, on reflection, the hon. Gentleman will see that he ought not to have made the speech which he has done. I will now pass to another point which has not a personal bearing, and which it is for the interest of the public service that allusion should be made. The hon. Member denounced the economy of the late Government, and praised the expenditure of the present Administration as its Financial Secretary. Now, let me ask him.—does he think that statement will strengthen his authority in keeping down expenditure? It is one of the functions of the Financial Secretary of the Admiralty to keep down expenditure, yet he has denounced our economy, and his Party will take its cue from him. I am quite sure the First Lord of the Admiralty will not wish that expenses should be pressed upon him. He knows—as everyone who has been at the Admiralty must know— from all sides there is constant pressure for expenditure; and it requires a very firm hand to resist those appeals. I should have wished, therefore, that the hon. Member would have impressed his Colleagues and his Party with notions of economy; but that does not seem to be the case, after listening to the speech which we have done, and others which he has made to his constituents. We cannot reach his constituents; and I sometimes wish they could come to this House and hear the replies which are made, and then they might be inclined to alter their opinion. As a specimen of the Financial Secretary's mode of handling business, he has given us the case of the Independencia. That ship, he says, cost the Brazilian Government £700,000, and we paid less for it; therefore, evidently we had got a good bargain. But, if I am not mistaken, the back of the Independencia was broken in the course of her launching, and great expenses were involved. Therefore, I do not think that it can be held that we have got a good bargain, because a ship cost a foreign Government a large sum of money. My hon. Friend the Member for Reading made a valuable statement, which I think it would be well for the Committee to recall. During the five years of each Administration, there have been 100.000 tons of shipping built. The late Government built 50,000 tons of iron-clads, and 50,000 606 tons of unarmoured vessels; while the present Government has built, at a greater cost, 40,000 tons of armoured vessels, and 60,000 tons of unarmoured vessels. I think that is a fail answer to the charges which have been brought against us. I will now turn to notice a few more of the topics touched upon by the First Lord of the Admiralty; and there is one point upon which I can cordially agree with him, and that is the increased efficiency he is going to give to the Dockyard at Malta. The right hon. Gentleman stated that he had increased the Establishment at Malta, and that it was evident that it was important, in the present state of affairs, that the Dockyard should be strengthened. Upon reference to the Estimates, however, I find the precise increase to the strength of Malta is one artificer, and that is an addition which the right hon. Gentleman has thought it worth while to allude to. The right hon. Gentleman has, I see, increased the salaries of the Instructors at Chatham by £25, and of the Chief Engineer by £20; but, on the other hand, the Assistant Inspector has been reduced by £50, so that the First Lord of the Admiralty has gained a £5 note on the transaction, and he is to be congratulated upon having made such a reform. There is another point upon which my congratulations are most sincere, and that is the reform which the right hon. Gentleman says he is about to make with regard to the Royal Naval College at Greenwich, in having the examinations conducted by authorities taken from outside. That is a very distinct improvement, and one which I trust will add to the efficiency of the College; and I am glad of this proof which the right hon. Gentleman has given of the interest which he takes in the Royal Naval College, which everyone now admits has been doing excellent service. I am also glad to think the right hon. Gentleman intends further to utilize the College by sending the lieutenants there when they first come on half-pay. Every proposal for increase of pay arising from this ground will, I am sure, be treated with the greatest consideration. I think it is a pity, however, that he has not been able to make up his mind, so that the necessary item might have been included in the present Estimates. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell 607 us whether any sum will be taken this year, or whether it will be deferred to a later period. I have only to say one or two words more on the question of shipbuilding. The right hon. Gentleman says he is going to build less than last year, and he is going to spend less; but why he builds less, and spends less, he has not shown to us, except that because he spent more last year, therefore he ought to spend less this year. What I contend is, that he has not indicated what his Naval policy is. Does he intend to keep the present number of ships in commission? Does he intend to equip and send out a Flying Squadron, and will the Reserve Squadron be sent out in the course of the year? These are questions which are deeply interesting to us, and, therefore, we want an answer to them. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not think I am unfair in asking them. I wish to see a little more clearly, and to know not only the amount to be spent, but the policy which underlies that expenditure. The right hon. Gentleman has hitherto confined himself to generalities. He says his policy is to keep up a stated number of men in the Dockyards; but that is everybody's policy. I am not thinking of the money to be spent, or how many men are to be employed; but I am thinking of what may be called the efficiency of the Navy, and in what direction the right hon. Gentleman proposes to concentrate his main efforts. He did not tell us, for instance, whether he gives up as impracticable, or inexpedient rather, the construction of such large ships as would match the ambitious designs of the Italian Navy. Is he satisfied with the types of ships which are now being constructed, or is he now engaged upon new types? These are subjects which demand explanation. I may say I do not make these criticisms as personal to the right hon. Gentleman, and they are important, because they involve the interests of the Public Service. I think justice will be done me in this respect—that during the last five years I have never made these Navy Estimates a field for Party conflict. I have supported the Admiralty in many cases; but I frankly say that I have thought it my duty to state this evening the objections which I have done, because I do not think we have had that fulness of statement to which 608 we have been accustomed on these occasions.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
Sir, I have no reason whatever to complain of the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman has dealt with the Statement which I thought it right to make. I admit that it was concise, and I avoided some topics which have been the subject of conversation in this House; but I will now endeavour to satisfy the right hon. Gentleman's thirst for further knowledge. The hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) has to-night shown a capacity for attack, and he has distinctly challenged the policy of the Government during the last five years. I shall not follow him on the present occasion in that attack; such a matter as that must be dealt with on another occasion. I can quite believe the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen) did his best to leave the Navy in a position which would enable it to discharge its important duties; but I appeal to him whether it was not necessary during his period of office to withdraw ships from stations, and whether he was not unable to supply reliefs for those ships, because the repairs of those ships had been neglected? I am not going further into that subject, because I do not think the Navy ought to be made the ground for Party fighting, and it ought not to be made the shuttlecock of Parties in this House. It is a matter of the gravest importance that the Navy of this country should be kept in a state of efficiency. The right hon. Gentleman has spoken of the absence of any statement of policy. I thought it best to simply explain the Estimates before the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman, however, asks for further information, though he must be well aware that there are at this moment circumstances which prohibit me from stating what is the distribution of the Navy. I may say, however, that I hope the Squadron in the Sea of Marmora will be able to leave there in a day or two and go back to the Mediterranean. The difficulty of forecasting the course of events makes it also difficult to say precisely what the future disposition of the Fleet will be. I will take the opportunity which has been afforded me, by the remarks which have fallen from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hastings (Mr. T. Brassey) and the right 609 hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen) to refer to the conduct of the officers and men of the Fleet in the Sea of Marmora. We all feel that no body of officers or men could possibly have behaved better in trying circumstances, and they have never given occasion for the least anxiety or concern on the score of their conduct. Hon. Members will probably know that a long period of watching and waiting in complete inactivity is far more trying to a British Fleet than the dangers of active service. My right hon. Friend referred to the proposed reduction in the number of Marines; and, on this point, I may say that as the efficiency of the corps could be restored within a short period of time, I came to the conclusion that the number of men contemplated in the proposed reduction might very well be spared. They are now 657 under strength, and the effect of the reduction will be that we shall not recruit until their number falls to 13,000. With regard to the purchase of the Independencia, I would point out to the Committee that the Brazilian Government paid for the vessel a larger sum than she has cost us. Again, she was a very powerful ship, and was also in a position to go to sea; for which reason I considered that, with her armament and ammunition, it was not desirable that she should pass into other hands. I think the Committee will be of opinion that I have exercised a proper discretion in acquiring that vessel for the nation. As regards her price, I may mention that I consulted an authority often spoken of in this House, by whom I was assured that the ship was worth £650,000. It is one thing to buy a ship under circumstances of emergency such as existed last year, and another to buy a ship when you are not at all anxious to acquire her at a price which might be considered somewhat extravagant. I have been challenged also upon the amount of tonnage which we propose to build this year, and was asked whether it was necessary to propose to the House to spend so large a sum in shipbuilding as before, to which I reply that we have been five years in Office and have built the amount of tonnage which we proposed to build. I will not go back into the question of the expenditure of the two Administrations, but wish to refer to the questions raised by the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands), who 610 has spoken rather disparagingly of the Board of Admiralty. I am sure, as far as the Admiralty is concerned, there is no desire to claim the attribute of infallibility. If anyone is infallible it must be the hon. Member for Burnley; but I cannot admit that blame attaches to the Admiralty with regard to the non-adoption of improvements; on the contrary, we are constantly desirous to learn and constantly desirous to improve. Another of the charges brought by the hon. Gentleman against the Admiralty was almost answered by himself; for when he said that the Admiralty was the last to avail itself of any now invention, he added, it had not discovered that compound engines were economical in the matter of fuel, until the fact had been found out by others, and, strangely enough, he has charged the Admiralty with altering the designs of their ships. The Dreadnought had been changed two or three times in the course of her construction by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers); and with regard to any other alterations, I will add that no man dare occupy the place occupied by myself if he does not consider questions of improvements necessary to be made in order to maintain the superiority of our Navy. I have explained to-night that when the question of steel armour came before me in a practicable shape, I was bound to consider whether steel or compound armour was not better than iron armour-plate. And with regard to the Inflexible, I ask, was it right that I should have allowed the work to go on upon the old design? Upon this point, I think it will be admitted that I have done my duty. The hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) has spoken of his concern that there are no Reserves of heavy ships; but I think I may say that, almost for the first time in our history, there are Reserves in heavy ships. I mentioned in the early part of the evening the names of 13 iron-clad ships, which, either new or completely refitted with new boilers, would be ready in the course of this year, in addition to the Fleet which exists in the Channel and the two Fleets in the Mediterranean. We have altogether 34 iron-clads which may be considered to be in a thoroughly efficient state. That is a larger number than we have possessed at any other period. With regard to the observa- 611 tions which fell from my hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Mr. T. Brassey), respecting the pay of the seamen of the Fleet, I wish to say that I regret he should have felt himself called upon to make those statements, which, as coming from him, will probably have great weight in the country. I confess that to me his speech was a surprise, and I do most earnestly deprecate statements made in this House as to the insufficiency of the pay of any class of public servants. I know it is difficult to withhold statements of the kind referred to; but the mischief done by them is almost incalculable. They raise expectations which it is almost impossible to gratify; and I must say that if you once begin seriously to entertain the question of increased pay with regard to one class of public servants, you open the door to an immense number of others, whom, if you refuse, you render dissatisfied. While I am upon this subject, I will add that, as far as my knowledge goes, the seamen of the Fleet are by no means dissatisfied with their position as regards pay and pensions. A remark has been made as to the number of desertions in the Pacific, which I can answer by a statement made by the captain of the Liffey, who took that vessel out to Coquimbo, and called at several ports on the West Coast of South America, and who told me that he had not lost a single man. It is, moreover, to be remembered that the wages of sailors have gone down very much recently; but I do not want to use this as an argument against paying the men of the Navy what they are entitled to, for they are a fine body of men who serve their country well, and therefore deserve to be well paid. Again, they have a position safer than that of the men in the Merchant Service, and are besides sure of a pension after 20 years' service, which is an enormous benefit to them. I have been challenged about building ships like the Italia. Well, I and my hon. Friend near me went over the vessel, and I must say that nothing could exceed the kindness and attention shown us by the Italian naval authorities, who have shown that they can build as good ships as can be built in this country; but, without wishing to compare our type of vessels with that of the Italians, I am not prepared to follow their example. I think it would be putting too many eggs 612 into one basket, while I am not at all certain that we cannot get the same speed and powers of defence possessed by that huge ship, by patiently carrying out experiments and watching the development of science, without committing ourselves to such enormous expenditure of material power and steam power also in one ship. I am not prepared to do that as. at present advised; but, at the same time, I must say that in view of the progress of naval science, rapid and continuous as it is, I desire to hold myself free to make any proposals which, after due consideration, are thought to be necessary. At the present moment I reserve my opinion. I think I have now answered most of the questions put to me; but there is one which came from the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot), which still requires a reply. He spoke of a feeling existing in the Marines, where that corps were jointly concerned with the Navy; and on that point I have to say that I should certainly regret that anything which has fallen from me should occasion pain to the officers of that gallant corps. He asked if it was the intention of the Admiralty to maintain the Queen's Regulations? I wish it to be understood that it is the intention of the Admiralty to maintain those Regulations most strictly. There has been a misunderstanding, which I trust has now been entirely removed by the answer given to the Adjutant General. There is no intention or disposition on the part of the Admiralty to make any change in the status of the officers of that gallant corps as regards the officers of the Navy; on the contrary, it is the intention fully to maintain the force of those Regulations which have existed for so many years. I shall now apologize for taking up the time of the House at so late a period in the evening (12.50), and express my regret if any want of clearness or fulness on my part has rendered it necessary to supplement my former observations. I trust that the Committee will now give us the Vote for the money required.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
wished to explain to the Committee, as the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty seemed to think he had been taken by surprise by the criticisms he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had made. He had expressly told the hon. Gentleman the 613 Under Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. A. F. Egerton) that he intended to call the attention of the Committee to the two Returns which formed the ground work of all the observations he had made— namely, the one showing the tonnage of ships built in the last 10 years, and the other the ships repaired during the lust four years.
§ MR. BENTINCK
desired to express his cordial concurrence with the remark which had fallen in the course of that discussion—that recrimination between the two front Benches formed a leading feature in a debate upon the Navy Estimates. They had heard that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen) had devoted his whole time and attention for many years past, with the greatest anxiety, to the efficiency of the British Navy. He (Mr. Bentinck) was, of course, bound to accept any statement which came from the right hon. Gentleman, and he did so fully and frankly; but he did so with some surprise, because it had occurred to him that the very last thing wished for by the right hon. Gentleman was an efficient Navy. The First Lord of the Admiralty had told them that they had 34 iron-clads in perfect order and fit for sea, and that there were others building; but he might be allowed to say that the number mentioned was in itself very much below that said to be required by the highest authorities on the subject. What he wanted to cross on the attention of the right hon. Gentleman, and that which he had not thought proper to deal with, was that he (Mr. Bentinck) complained of the shortcomings of the Government generally under the present aspect of European affairs. He had also contended that not only was the position of the Navy as regarded ironclads not what it ought to have been, but he had further said that the aspect of European affairs did not render this the time for any reduction of our maritime efficiency; but, above all, that the period had arrived when we ought to devote our energies, as well as the men and money required, for the purpose of putting our naval resources in a state of the highest possible efficiency. He had addressed himself to the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty, and regretted that he had not thought it worth while to refer to the 614 heavy question he had put forward. His own individual opinion was that the country was proceeding in the dark in not taking advantage of the time of peace to put her naval power in a more effective condition than it was in at the present time.
§ MR. PARNELL
wanted to say a few words on the Vote, but would defer them until they came to the Vote for the money. Of course, the Government would give those hon. Members, who had waited without being able to join in the debate, an opportunity of making such remarks as the desired.
pointed out to the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Parnell), that the present Vote was for Seamen and Marines, and was that which was open for general discussion, whereas the following Vote was for money only.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, the question he desired to raise was one which he considered would arise, either on one Vote or another.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I trust the hon. Gentleman the Member for Meath (Mr. Parnell) will allow the Vote to be taken now. There will be ample time to put any questions later on. The hon. Member has not been in the House this evening so long as I have.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £2,708,695, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expense of Wages, &c. to Seamen and Marines, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1880.
§ MR. PARNELL
certainly thought the right hon. Gentleman should agree to report Progress under the circumstances. He recollected that last year he did not succeed in getting the Vote for the men, on which occasion he did not finish his own statement; but the right hon. Gentleman had been more fortunate that evening. He begged to move that Progress be reported.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Parnell.)
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, that the question had sometimes been compromised by its being understood that questions 615 might be raised on the Vote for Victualling and Provisions. Perhaps, under the circumstances, the right hon. Gentleman would consent to report Progress after the present Vote had been taken. He wished to say a few words in reply to the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck). During the long time that discussions had continued in that House, the hon. Gentleman had never ventured to challenge the House with regard to his (Mr. Goschen's) conduct, with the exception of one occasion, when he was in a miserable minority. There was no person but the hon. Member in the House who believed him to be indifferent to the interests of the Navy.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I hope the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Parnell) will accept the suggestion that any discussion which he may have to raise upon the Estimates shall be taken on the Victualling Vote.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, he knew that some hon. Members who wished to speak had been precluded from so doing, and had left the House in consequence.
pointed out that the practice was to take a general discussion upon the first Vote. The second Vote raised the question of money, and the third Vote raised the same question. It would, therefore, be clearly out of Order to raise any question upon the second or third Vote that might be raised on the subsequent Votes.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow;
§ Committee to sit again upon Wednesday.